Seventy-five years ago, Viktor Frankl wrote one of the greatest books in mental health. First published in 1946, Viktor Frankl’s memoir Man’s Search for Meaning remains one of the most influential books of the last century, selling over ten million copies worldwide and having been embraced by successive generations of readers captivated by its author’s philosophical journey in the wake of the Holocaust.
Many of us may find that we hope to focus on making headway in 2021 by setting New Year’s resolutions. While it’s very common for us to use the New Year as a launching point for self-improvement, I would like to take a moment to discuss some important themes to keep in mind now that we are approaching 2021.
Holiday Stress is something that is probably impacting a lot of us right now — this year especially. The holidays are presented as a very joyful, warm, and fuzzy time of year. A lot of us want to decorate, give gifts, and bake treats. However, is this stereotypical image of the holidays realistic? What is the reality of bringing this vision to life?
Paid bereavement days, meal trains, flower arrangements and condolence cards are often sent as acknowledgement during traditional losses. These gestures do not typically accompany disenfranchised grief. Unfortunately, this absence further supports the misbelief that a person’s feelings of loss are not valid.
There is no rule book on what we should feel or do during the holidays. Even though there is no holiday rule book, sometimes the demands of the holidays spike our stress levels anyway. Finding ways to cope with the stress of the holidays can help us to find our joy this holiday season.
The American culture seems to reinforce people by valuing productivity and being “stressed out” over mental health. Sometimes it seems as if slowing down is seen as undesirable and linked with being lazy. Is it possible that some stress could be self-inflicted?
Be part of the solution. Bullying behaviors have a wide-reaching impact on our children and social climate. It is imperative we support our students, no matter what role they play, in preventing, and intervening.
A therapist can educate people on healthy relationship skills, including sex, because it is healthy! They can also help people identify, process, and challenge existing thoughts or beliefs about what is “normal”. In turn, this can improve intimacy and decrease feelings of embarrassment for patients and their partners.
Time after time, I hear those who are grieving say, “I should be over this by now.” While there is no time limit on grief, this is a common feeling to have. Loss and grief are two of the most challenging things to deal with in life, especially during the holiday season.
Have you ever noticed that showing gratitude feels good? Practicing being grateful is linked with mental well-being, including increased self-esteem, better sleep, higher energy levels, increased optimism, decreased anxiety, and reduced depressive symptoms.
Meltdowns, tantrums, defiance, or aggressive behavior can mask underlying feelings of anxiety. Typically when we see a child being defiant at home or school, our first thought might be, “that child is angry” and “they don’t like to follow rules.” Or we might say “that child is disrespectful.” But, underneath that anger or tantrum, are often feelings of overwhelming anxiety or worry.
About halfway through my tour I was at Bagram to go on leave and another solider, who knew my background as a therapist, shared with me the symptoms of PTSD he was experiencing after a particularly awful experience. The therapist part of me tried to speak up and offer some suggestions, but I couldn’t do it.
I didn’t think of myself as stressed. But when you lined up the pieces next to each other, it seemed obvious that there was a lot on my shoulders. Not to mention the extenuating circumstances of this year — Covid, an inland hurricane in Iowa, election season, and more.
STOP listening to your inner critic. This is the voice that says, “you’re worthless,” “you’re fat,” “why can’t you be like other people?” Challenge these negative thoughts and STAND UP TO YOUR INNER CRITIC. When you recognize the inner critic, you can begin to challenge and defy the inner critic and see yourself for who you really are.